Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Do You Want Maximum Rewards, or Simple Cash Back?

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Cash back credit cards can add serious value to your wallet, but maximization depends on choosing the right card for your spending habits. That’s especially true if you’re trying to decide between the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® — two of our favorite picks from the issuer.

Both cards offer the same welcome bonus, 0% APR introductory offer and no annual fee. You’ll also get many of the same rewards, including:

  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase
  • 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases.
  • 5% back on up to $12,000 spent at grocery stores the first year

Where these cards differ are the ways you can really maximize spending outside these categories. The Chase Freedom Flex gives an additional 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories (then 1% back) and 1% back on all regular spending. Meanwhile, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% back on regular, non-bonus purchases.

The best Chase Freedom card for you comes down to whether you value simple, flat cash back rewards, or don’t mind a little extra tracking to score a bigger rewards bonus. Here are more details about these cards to help you decide:

Side-by-Side Comparison

Chase Freedom FlexChase Freedom Unlimited
Annual Fee$0$0
Welcome Offer$200 bonus cash when you spend $500 within three months of account opening$200 bonus cash when you spend $500 within three months of account opening
Cash Back Rewards• 5% back on up to $12,000 spent at grocery stores the first year

• 5% back on travel booked through Chase

• 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)

• 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases

• 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories (then 1% back)

• 1% back on other purchases
• 5% back on up to $12,000 spent at grocery stores the first year

• 5% back on travel booked through Chase

• 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)

• 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases

• 1.5% back on other purchases
Introductory Offer0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%
Other Benefits• 3 complimentary months of DashPass membership

• Purchase protection

• Extended warranties

• Auto rental coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance

• Cell phone protection and other World Elite Mastercard benefits 
• 3 complimentary months of DashPass membership

• Purchase protection

• Extended warranties

• Auto rental coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance

Bonus Comparison

The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited have the same welcome offer. You can earn $200 in bonus cash when you spend $500 within three months of account opening. That’s equal to just $167 in monthly spending for the first three months after you’re approved.

Rewards Comparison

Both Chase Freedom cards grant 5% back on travel booked through Chase, 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases. 

For the first year, you can also earn 5% back on up to $12,000 spent at grocery stores — though superstores like Walmart and Target, as well as warehouse clubs like Costco don’t count toward this category.

The Chase Freedom Flex is a better option for people who want to maximize rewards in special bonus categories. It offers added rotating bonus rewards categories every quarter; often, these categories include things like streaming subscriptions and gas stations, or specific merchants like Walmart or Amazon. 

You’ll earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories, which you must activate each quarter through your online account. That means for a total $6,000 in spending in these rotating categories, you could earn a maximum $300 back per year. After reaching that max each quarter, you’ll earn 1% back, along with 1% back on any spending that falls outside of rewards categories. 

On the other hand, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% back on regular, non-bonus purchases. This makes this card a better option for people looking for simplicity; you can earn rewards on all your purchases without worrying about bonus categories or earning caps.

However, to reach the same $300 cash back amount as the Freedom Flex via the Freedom Unlimited 1.5% flat cash back, you’d need to spend at least $20,000 annually in categories that don’t fall into these cards’ combined categories — travel booked through Chase, Lyft rides, dining, drugstores, and groceries (for the first 12 months).

Pro Tip

Pair the Chase Freedom Flex or the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve for boosted rewards redemptions, and transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners.

Ultimately, the Chase Freedom Flex offers more rewards value for less upfront spending. But it takes a bit more work to earn, and your spending may not always align with rotating categories. What’s more, these categories are difficult to predict or build into your budget, since Chase releases new categories quarterly. While Chase Freedom Unlimited may not have as high a rewards rate, guaranteed 1.5% cash back on every purchase is both competitive and much simpler for day-to-day tracking.

APRs

Both of these cash back credit cards come with the same introductory offer — 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%. 

If you use either card for a balance transfer, you’ll pay a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5) for balances transferred in the first 60 days. After that, the balance transfer fee goes up to 5% (minimum $5).

Cardholder Benefits

The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited come with more benefits than most cash back credit cards, although the Chase Freedom Flex wins here.

Both Chase Freedom cards offer three complimentary months of DashPass membership, purchase protection against damage or theft, extended warranties, auto rental coverage, and trip cancellation and interruption insurance. 

But the Chase Freedom Flex is a Mastercard, and offers a range of World Elite Mastercard benefits that don’t apply to the Freedom Unlimited. These include cellphone protection worth up to $800 per claim (maximum two claims per year), free ShopRunner membership, a $5 discount when you take at least three Lyft rides in a month, discounts at Fandango, World Elite concierge service, 5% back on HelloFresh orders, and more.

Fees

While neither card charges an annual fee, they both charge a 3% foreign transaction fee when you use your card for purchases abroad. 

Other fees include the balance transfer fee (3% for balance transfers for 60 days, then 5%) and late payment fees and returned payment fees of up to $40. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99 – 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    100,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.

Deciding Between Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited

These cards are very similar, and both offer great rewards and perks. In short, either of these cards could make a valuable addition to your wallet. 

The biggest detail to consider is whether you are willing to put in the work to earn 5% back in quarterly bonus categories (up to limits), or whether you prefer a simple flat 1.5% back on everything you buy. 

If you’re someone who wants to maximize bonus categories and your spending aligns with previous rotating quarterly categories, the Chase Freedom Flex could be ideal. If you love simplicity, on the other hand, the higher rate of 1.5% on all regular purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited could be a better pick for you.

At the end of the day, the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited are two of the top rewards cards out there. As long as you practice good credit habits and pay down your balance each month, you can’t go wrong with either one.